CBS Radio and Yahoo! received a victory in court as a New York apellate judge upheld their side in a court battle that began in 2001. Sony BMG, the losing party in the case, has now racked up their second failure against Yahoo! You see, this case was their appeal after losing the original court case in 2007.
The sticking point has always been interactivity. The judge ruled — correctly, I think — that Yahoo!’s LaunchCast service does not meet the requirements for the royalties in question. For that to be the case, people would have to be able to program the service to play particular songs like an mp3 player. Emma Woolacot over at TG Daily explains:
Launchcast allows users to create a personalized ‘radio station’, playing their favourite musical genres. But, said judge Richard Wesley, “This degree of control is no different from a traditional radio listener expressing a preference for a country music station over a classic rock station.”
For Yahoo!, this means a multimillion dollar savings — not inconsiderable, especially in these belt tightening times. It also is an encouraging sign as we watch the recording industry madly flail about attempting to squeeze revenue from any possible interpretation of law. It does not mean a lack of royalties altogether, the service will still have to pay standard licensing fees to SoundExchange, the industry-sponsored non-profit that collects musicians’ royalties.
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